FOOLS AND THEIR GOLD
By: Karen B.
Summary: Starsky pov. Typing up a report late at night in squad room.
Thank you, Dawn for taking an interest in my story, and helping direct it through all the obstacles.
Detective: David Michael Starsky
Document number: 663-0458-9
Date: October 10, 1973
12:30 am October 10, 1973.
I Detective David Starsky, driving the unmarked unit known as Zebra Three, was stopped at a red light on Brookpark Drive. As it changed green I slowly pulled away. Checking my rearview mirror I observed a suspicious vehicle entering the parking lot of Castaways Sporting Goods store, 16250 Richmond Drive. Informing my partner, Detective Ken Hutchinson, we then proceeded to turn about and investigate.
From a distance the area was dark and the store was believed to be closed at this hour. Just before pulling into the lot, we observed two large figures, believed to be male, exit the vehicle and disappear around the back of the building. We quickly drove over to the store and parked next to a '68 green Camero. Before we could inspect anything, we immediately, heard a single shot fire. We estimated it came from behind the building where the suspects had retreated. Following procedure, Detective Hutchinson radioed in to dispatch, requesting backup. Dispatch informed us that our closest patrol car's estimated time of arrival was eighteen minutes.
Detective Hutchinson and myself, Detective Starsky--
Frustrated beyond being able to think, I snatched the report I'd been working on from my typewriter. I looked at the clock on the wall. It was four in the morning. I looked back at my report. At the words; eighteen minutes
Giving a low whistle, I crumpled the report and slam-dunked it into the trash. I was glad I was alone in the squad room. There was something angry stirring inside me and I was in no shape to be civil to anyone. In fact, I probably shouldn't even be trying to type up this report right now. I just couldn't sleep after leaving my partner resting comfortably in his hospital bed. Somehow, without even thinking, I found myself here.
When I sat back in my chair and shut my eyes with a sigh, the image of my injured partner came to me. It could have been worse. So much worse. I shivered, opening my eyes and glaring back at the typewriter.
ETA,- eighteen minutes. The words buzzed in my aching head.
It's jaw dropping. Minutes matter. There is not enough man power to cover this entire city. Tonight proves it.
Everyone too far away. Too busy to respond. Everyone, that's a big number. My partner might not have gotten injured if we didn't stretch our response times so thin. We need more men. On every shift. But the city won't cough up the money, they say it's not in the fiscal budget. There is a war going on out on the streets, but sometimes I think the war is actually going on in the department itself. How can we keep doing our jobs if they keep tying our hands behind our backs?
Fools and their budgets.
Well, maybe me typing up official reports isn't in the fiscal budget either. I opened my desk drawer, taking out a few clean sheets of paper. Threading one into the typewriter roller, I began typing out my own brand of report.
The fiery red Torino--
The candy apple red--
Like a firecracker going off inside a steel drum, the race car red Torino blew out from the sketchy shadows of the inky black night, and hung a louie out onto Euclid Boulevard.
A rattle in my car's engine suddenly reminded me of something. Note to self: Better have my mechanic Merle check this striped babe out; gears could be slipping. Speaking of stripes.
Note of interest: Like the age old question, which came first? The chicken or the egg? That white stripe on my car. It came first. Ford painted the vehicle white, then the red was applied around it. Just a little known fact.
Time logged: 11:45pm.
It was quiet. Most would say it looked like just another regular evening. But if you asked this cop, there is nothing regular about Bay City. When it gets this quiet you can be sure something is about to go down. Might not see the bad guys, but they're there. Like ants under your shoe.
I have to admit, our shift did start off sluggish and crappy. My partner, Ken Hutchinson, and myself, David Starsky, had been touring the south-side neighborhood for over five hours. It was fairly standard stuff. Wednesday, nothing much ever really goes on. The night was slow and the heat was heavy. Rat pellets dropping in the empty hallways of the Wild Horses Club would be more exciting.
Note: See case file 43-A-37. Wild Horses Club. 44th and Prospect. We shut them down last month, first for expired liquor license. But later got called back with a hot tip, the pink lipstick barmaids were serving up preferential treatment in exchange for the 20-dollar bill. And here's a little known fact; did you know snow-white cocaine came with every beer on tap?
Seemed closing that place down had curbed the nightlife around the area. Even the regulars looked bored as the devil at a gospel house revival. It was the same old game play as always.
Stomp, one of our best snitches when you caught his belly empty, leaned against his usual spot next to the rusted old dumpster of Mario's Pizzeria. He spit--shined his black leather boots while waiting for the all important disposable pie, that sooner or later would end up in his hands. Guy was a homeless drug addict, about two years ago, but since then, Hutchinson and I had helped clean him up. Got him a job. A small apartment. He was doing well for himself.
"Stomp waiting for the tables to clear again?" Hutchinson asked me groggily.
"Old habits," I replied.
Then we passed the third park bench from the mailbox on 55th. There sat Duff. He twitched nervously, pulling his avocado colored army duffle bag closer. Guy doesn't go anywhere without it. I'm pretty certain he has a home, but he spends most his time out on the streets. Writing a book, I guess. I remember once him telling me, you had to get out of the closet to write the dirt. I watched him slouch lower, trying to huddle under the suburban nightmare of the Bay City Times. Another one of his famous philosophies, 'read it today, forget it tomorrow.'
While on Seaside, Lucy-Goosey shuffled tiredly back and forth just outside Bulls-eye Custom Tattoo Parlor. Wearing a gold lame miniskirt, matching blouse and glittery ten inch hills. I figure she's got another year in her before she retires.
Time logged: 12:15am.
I came to a halt at a stoplight on Brookpark Road. And there was Nacho. A sweet old homeless man. We'd picked him up six months ago at Fred's discount furniture store. He'd been sleeping on one of their display beds. Fred wanted to press charges, but Hutchinson and I talked him out of it. Nacho sleeps at the local mission now. But the thing that gets me is the guy knows how to eat. I don't know where he finds such great food this time of night, but I'd be lying if I didn't say he'd stolen my heart for the second time this week.
"Oh, man," I uttered to my partner. "You want to know something?"
"I don't." Hutchinson sat forward, opening the glove box, and investigating its contents.
"Sure you don't," I said with sarcasm, looking at the health bar my partner now had in his hand, then looking back at Nacho.
"Ugh," I groaned painfully, trying not to drool like a Saint Bernard all over my seats.
"Is it urgent?" my partner asked slowly chewing a mouthful of granola.
"It's about, Nacho."
"Then I really don't want to know," Hutchinson said dryly.
I watched Nacho a few more seconds, walking down the sidewalk with a tortilla in his right hand and a taco in his left. All the fixings piled high and dripping to the ground. Even from this distance I could smell it. Hutchinson nudged me with an elbow as the streetlight had changed. I slowly pulled away, and all was quiet again.
The breeze coming in through my rolled down window was doing little to cool things off. We continued on our beat, circling the area, scanning buildings, parks, and back alleys. Nothing. That's right, nothing. All this excitement was making it hard to fight off the weight of sleep.
I shook my head. Needed some distraction. I glanced over at my partner. He was looking real tired. The sandman creeping up on him fast. So I leaned slightly his way.
"Fire in the hole!" I yelled.
Hutchinson jerked, sitting straight, and reaching up under his leather jacket for his gun, only stopping himself when he saw me laughing at him.
Can't tell you the words that came out of Hutchinson's mouth, but I'm pretty sure you could take a good guess. Didn't know there where twenty-four different ways a person could send someone to hell.
I still had a big smile on my face when I found myself stopped at the light again on Brook Park Drive. While my blond partner was busy trying to find his heart, and catch his breath, I happened to look in my rearview mirror. Not a car on the road, except a '68 green Camero, that mysteriously pulled into the parking lot of Castaways Sporting Goods Store. I watched two shadowed figures get out and dart 'round back. Good thing, too. Kept me from really hearing all the flak from my partner over my playful sense of humor .
Time logged: 12:30 am.
I didn't need to see the 'sorry we are closed sign'. No reason for them to be there. Okay, no lawful reason. I knew they were up to no good.
"Want to find some bad guys, buddy?" I asked Hutchinson.
"Be a nice change of pace," he said sarcastically.
I think my partner's trust in me was wearing thin, but I gave him the low down on what I saw, anyway. Then slowly I turned my car around, and crept toward the store front, quickly popping the gear into park. Before we could even get out to check the vehicle, we heard a single shot fired. Sounded like it had come from around back.
In textbook style, Hutchinson radioed in. Dispatch informed us that our closest backup was eighteen minutes away. My partner informed dispatch, that we could dig a hole to China by then, and irritably tossed the mike. We locked eyes, and together decided to go it on foot, alone, and we exited my remarkably polished car.
While we were making our way around the outside of the building, I saw it as my official duty to point out to Hutchinson, that if we did dig that hole to China, it wouldn't be one of his better ideas. Because we'd end up having a visa problem once we got there, might even get ourselves arrested. My partner just looked at me like I were a bumbling cop dressed in clown's clothing. But then we both got serious, as we cautiously came around the corner of the Sporting Goods store.
Once again, things seemed quiet. Too quiet. Nothing stirred. Not even the sound of my partner's stylish boots. Then we heard voices arguing.
A large stack of pallets blocked our view. I flagged Hutchinson to go right of the stockpile while I went left. We approached slowly- ready to confront whatever illegal activity was going on. We both peeked around the stack at the same time. Under a dimly lit flood light, near the loading dock, we saw four males. One black, one white, one undetermined, lying on the ground, possibly dead, and one looking more like a demented clown, his face nearly painted white and his moppy red hair sticking straight up and stiff, sort of looking like Don King.
Looking like Don king? Wake up and smell the coffee, Starsky. Little Miss Sunshine. Same old Shane Ridley. He sure hadn't accomplished much.
The last I saw him, he was in a drunken rant. Shouting obscenities, desperately trying to give me the slip, make his drop, and pick up his cash. He Feeds his crappy lines of coke and alluring gifts to young kids day after day.Getting them to do his bidding. Collecting them in his pockets like loose change.
It was hard pinning the guy down without my partner around. Hutch had gone back to Duluth for a week to visit his parent's when I went after Ridley. But, I was determined. I wasn't going to let Ridley get the coke out on the street so someone could get their hands on it, snuff it in some dark corner, and end up dead. Ridley was going to take a long fall.
Every time I had gotten close to nabbing Shane, he'd be gone again. He was quick. Moved about the city as if coffee ran through his veins instead of blood,selling his junk all over town. Uptown. Downtown. Mid-town. He was everywhere.
Too bad for him, so was I.
When I finally caught up to him, I took him down. Hauled his ass from the bar where I had cornered him, and stuffed him into a police cruiser, slamming the door.
There are a lot of things in this world that you just take for granted. Like water coming out of your tap or like a falling cat who should always land on its feet. When you bust your hump to do your job, and do it right,you shouldn't ever again see the scum bucket you collared four years ago for trafficking drugs, and using 13-year old kids as his delivery boys, unless it's in the mug shot books.
It doesn't always prevail. The weight of that truth often makes me think one of these days I'm going to be paying a visit to that four by four room with no windows, where all the walls are soft, and painted white.
Shaking my head free of my thoughts, I once again watched the bad guys closely. Could tell they'd obviously dealt with one another before, but something must have gone wrong to find one of them shot. The other two perps Ridley was with, appeared to be in their mid-to-late twenties, and they didn't look real chummy with one another. One of them still held a gun in his hand. Between the three of them, they were exchanging bags of green for neatly wrapped brown paper bundles; I was certain the bundles were not sacks of mixed nuts or mom's homemade bread.
What to do?
You don't hit the beach without your sunglasses, beach towel, or suntan lotion, and you don't cut and run into a bad scene like this without first checking in with your backup. It's all about being synchronized. Knowing what every twitch of your partner's muscles mean, and being able to look in his eyes and unlock the secrets of the universe.
My eyes wandered across the way, to connect with Hutchinson. He looked energized. Ready to move in. I conveyed back to him what the skinny would be. We were saddled with one problem. There were three of them, and according to my watch backup was still fourteen minutes away.
It's how we run our business. It may not make sense, but it's what keeps us alive out here.
Hutchinson didn't bother pretending he wasn't nervous, but he let me know with one nod of his head he would take the lead. My stomach turned, feeling confident yet edgy at the same time. We had the element of surprise, but in this line of work the stakes are always high, and there are plenty of underrated motives that you could easily lose your life over.
Hutchinson rose up to his full height. He held his gun like a blond graduate of the James Bond school. It made me smile. I gripped my weapon, taking the same tack as my partner and rising upward. Hutchinson then gave me the go ahead. We're about to duke it out. I took a breath. Took a step forward. Nervous sweat dripped down my back. The time, now? Rush- hour.
"Quality control, police," Hutchinson stated, reaching for his shield. "You girls seen a few of these in your day?" he smiled mischievously, waving his badge in the air. For a moment everything froze. Looks as if they weren't expecting any visitors. "Balls! Down on the ground, now!" Hutchinson yelled, striding a few steps closer.
I gave a chuckle; that was the coolest thing I've ever heard him say.
We approached slowly, then stood still, pulling back on the trigger at the same time.
"What he said!" I jerked a thumb my partner's way.
The faces of all three men went sour, as the bottom dropped out of their world. Their deal was mucked up and they were not happy. I could see they were not going to go down easy. Like three year olds, they were about to throw a fit.
Fools and their gold.
A cool breeze floated past and I shivered. The fuse was lit, and, I could feel the situation was about to blow. The bad guys stiffened, about to do what they were designed to do. Before I knew it, Ridley pulled a piece from his jacket,and sure enough, the sound of bullets exploded in stereo. I took cover behind a nearby tow motor, tripping over the tractor's flat skids which are used to lift cargo. Quickly falling to my knees behind the tow motor I looked over to where Hutchinson was a moment ago, it shaved a decade of my life when I watched him fall forward to his stomach onto the ground.
Shit! I have an officer down. Not just any officer. My partner!
The bad guys scattered like rolling marbles, and I returned hard fire. They were pinned down and camouflaged within the shadows. Trapped between the building and us, like wild animals, making them even more dangerous.
I heard Hutchinson groan. I needed to get to him. Move him out of the line of fire. I danced out from behind my cover, causing the stereo volume to be kicked up a notch.
Okay. Bad idea!
A bullet trying to pierce my left ear moved me back into place. We had a serious problem. Like a tape recorder rolling in my head, on full volume, I hear my Captain's voice loud and angry. 'What did you expect? Private party! Stupid! Not waiting for your backup! 'If I pulled that crap when I was on the streets I'd be bounced out on my a--'
Hutchinson groaned, hitting the stop button on Dobey's voice in my head. I was pressed for answers. That momentary panic hitting me, making my brain fall fast asleep. It's like watching a baseball coming down out of the sky, into your glove, only to have it bounce right out onto the ground. Gotta remember to keep my glove oiled.
I scanned the area for anything. There was nothing. Not a scheme or strategy to be found. I had to get to him. Had to somehow--
My blank spot was suddenly swept away like a flash flood. Shuddering, I felt my IQ score drop a few points. Why didn't I think of it sooner? Maybe I could use the small yellow forklift I was huddled behind. I awkwardly wiggled up into it and, lucky me, found the key in the ignition.
I continued to fire off shots in their direction, finally able to position the tow motor between the bullets and my partner. I jumped out and crouched next to Hutchinson, automatically taking his wrist. It felt cold and clammy. I couldn't find his pulse. I moved two fingers to the artery in his neck, and my knees almost buckled with relief, when I felt his beating heart.
"Hutch. Hutch." I scanned his face, waiting for a response, but I got none. "Hutch! Can you hear me?"
"I don't think so," he mumbled in confusion. I don't think he had any idea where the hell he was.
Pressed for time, I couldn't check for any real injury. Only looked him over quickly. Not seeing any blood at the moment, I took Hutchinson's gun out of his hand, laying it on the ground near my feet where I could easily grab it when my weapon ran out of ammo.
"What--what are you doing?" he asked.
I let a few more bullets loose to hold off the bad guys. "Just making sure you don't shoot wide off the mark. Hit one of the good guys," I stated.
But to his credit, my partner snickered, seeming to come out of his stupor a little. He rolled over onto his back, then sat up, scooting against the toe motor for support. I quickly examined his ribcage, the way it slowly rose and fell. I could tell his breathing was shallow.
"You all right?" I asked.
He didn't respond, only looked at me oddly.
"Hutch, are you all right?" I pressed him for an answer, watching his eyes flutter as if he was going to black out. "Hey. Hey, buddy, you with me still?" I gripped his shoulder gently, keeping him propped up and holding him in place.
"I don't think so," he mumbled again, sounding shell-shocked, yet aware enough to know lies wouldn't fly with this partner. "Oh, my head."
"Come on, Hutch. Stick with me. I know you're in there."
I took a moment to look into the shadows. The first thing I realized was the shooting had stopped. Second thing, the dust had settled. But I knew those guys were still there, hidden behind impenetrable darkness, and probably trying to decide what to do next.
"Buddy, I have no idea where our backup is. Maybe they are too busy getting drunk on donuts?" I was trying to be funny, but it went right over Hutchinson's head.
I knew the department was short on man power, but this was ridiculous. Looking back at Hutchinson, his head lolled sideways, coming into the light. It was then that I noticed a thin line of red streaking down the side of his face..The leak started above his right brow.
"Hey, buddy, you're bleeding."
I reached up leaning in to closely examine the wound. A palpable sense of relief came to me when I realized it was just a graze that blew his socks off.
I startled slightly, when I heard the words. Finally, the big blue boy scouts showed up.
"Lay your weapons on the ground and come out with your hands in the air!" Another voice shouted.
A few straggled bullets later, the three lunatics did as requested. I watched them being cuffed, and thrown into the back of a police cruiser. I knew they would be going on a long over due forced vacation to the slammer.
"Hey, is he okay?" I turned around to see one of the boys in blue behind me.
"I think so. Just a graze, but you better call me an ambulance, anyway," I told him.
The officer nodded, trotting off to do just that.
I looked back at my partner. "Hey, Blondie, I hope you have clean undorwear on--"
I stopped typing a moment. My eyes blurring. I yawned, and rubbed at them. It seemed to help me focus once more. Looking to the wall clock I decided it was about time I wrapped up this unofficial report of mine.
'cause your going to the hospital."
Hutchinson gave me a drunken playful smile. "Not wearing any."
"Figures," I laughed.
A small gust of wind blew and I felt Hutchinson turn to liquid as he shifted sideways. "Whoa, there, buddy," I said.
"Little dizzy," he said, his voice low.
"I can see that."
What does my partner do with his time off? Think up ways to scare me half to death? Like the time he haphazardly took off after a 2-11 suspect, across the rotting shingles of an old warehouse. Roof wouldn't hold a few drops of rain, let alone a one hundred and seventy five pound, six foot, blond.
I eased him upward. Using my shirt sleeve, I repeatedly dabbed at his brow. "Ouuuch," he groaned in pain.
"Easy, buddy. I know that's gotta hurt." I winced
Hutchinson watched me, but I wasn't sure he was seeing me. The bleeding seemed to lessen, and I stopped dabbing. I held up one finger, moving it back and forth in front of his face. Hutchinson's eyes followed slowly. Saw it on Marcos Welby one time.
"What-what's this?" Hutchinson asked, his eyes still following and looking unfocused.
"It's a finger, dummy."
"I know it's a finger, Starsky." Hutchinson sounded exhausted. "What the hell is it doing in my face?"
"Helping you," I replied with a snort of laughter.
"That's not helping," my partner protested, taking my arm and not letting go. I felt bad for him, Hutchinson looked ill and uncomfortable
"Sorry." I stopped, instead running my hand through my hair. "Why does this always happen to us?" I asked myself, but Hutchinson answered.
Hutchinson seemed to be revived somewhat, having found his socks, but they still didn't match.
"How many bad guys do we deal with, Starsky?"
"Thousands, maybe millions," I answered with a smile.
"My point exactly." Ah, here it comes, the Hutchinson calculation. "You have that many bad guys coming through your door, something's bound to happen. Statistics. " He smiled but then it faded as he looked like he'd been punched in the gut and about to vomit. "How do I look?" Hutchinson asked instead, giving my arm a squeeze and then letting go as the pain subsided.
"You need to lose some weight." I made light of the situation.
Hutchinson gave me a concerned look.
"You're fine," I said, patting his stomach. "Relax."
I didn't know how long I'd been staring at the wall. Wondering what to write in my report next, when I felt hot air, like a giant was breathing down my neck.
I jerked falling out of my seat, bumping my nose on a pair of familiar black shoes.
"Why are you here? Are you homeless?"
"Cap." I struggled to look upward, then gripped the side of my desk, and tiredly pulled myself to stand, tucking in my shirt.
"Where's Hutchinson?" Dobey's eyes wandered around the empty squad room.
"Hospital," I said, sitting back in my chair. "They're keeping him overnight for observation."
"And you're here… because?"
I didn't want to tell him I couldn't sleep. To hyped up and worried about Hutch, and unable to stay with him after visiting hours. Looking at my Captain, I wondered the same about him. What was he doing here at this hour?
Never a patient man, Dobey had pulled my paper out of the typewriter roller before I could explain. I watched his eyes ping-ponging back and forth.
"Amazing, right?" I laughed. "Keep reading, it gets better." I laughed some more, but I could tell, to my captain, it was no laughing matter.
With searing eyes, Dobey finally looked up at me. "You two are busted again for having your fair share of private parties."
"Us, Cap." I feigned innocents. "You got the wrong guys."
"Stupid!" He yelled. Here it comes. Dobey gets two points every time he puts this piece of advice in the hoop. "Private parties. Not waiting for your backup! If I pulled that crap when I was on the streets, I'd be bounced out on my--"
"Ass." I smiled at him, but not for long.
I cringed. There was nowhere for me to hide.
"I want a police report. Not a bestseller!" Dobey stuffed my statement in his vest pocket. "This isn't worth the paper it's written on."
"Typed on," I corrected dejectedly, threading a clean sheet of paper into my typewriter.
"It's not worth the paper it's typed on."
"Written on. Typed on. Detective! I want this done per regulation. Now!" I watched Dobey lumber over toward his office, grab hold of the handle and yank the door open. "And Starsky." He turned to me. "You misspelled underwear." He gave a willful smile, then he was gone. Slamming the door behind him.
I starred after him a moment. That was brutal. I'd worked hard. Maybe Dobey had pulled the plug on me. Sunk me to the bottom. But my captain forgot one thing. I like crawling along the bottom.
I sat up straighter. My back pressed against my chair. Feet flat on the floor. I Settled my fingertips on the keyboard, took a deep breath, then blew the air out my lungs.
The fire extinguisher red--
"Oh, hell, no!"
The ruby red--
The streets were dark and empty. The silence interrupted only by the growl of the vibrant red Torino that came out of nowhere. Like a ghost, riding a gust of wind, it made a louie out onto Euclid Boulevard………
real cure for our environmental problems is to understand that our
job is to salvage
Mother Nature. We are facing a formidable enemy in this field. It is the hunters...and to convince them to leave their guns on the wall is going to be very difficult.
--Jacques Yves Cousteau